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Customs officials give clean chit to Aishwariya

Written by: Staff

Mumbai, Nov 20: Customs officials today gave a clean chit 'as of now' to Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai in connection with a parcel containing 23000 Euros (around Rs 14 lakh) sent to her from the Netherlands.

After grilling the leading lady of Indian cinema for two-and-a- half hours at the international airport here this afternoon, the Custom officials cleared her. ''We have given her a clean chit as of now,'' Commissioner Customs (imports) A K Prasad told the media this evening.

"She was mentally very disturbed but cooperative (during questioning) and our officers had to pacify her," he added.

Aishwariya's secretary Harii Singh confirmed her presence in the city early today but said she has left for Jodhpur to continue her shooting for 'Jodha Akbar'.

Aishwariya Rai was questioned at the Sahar international airport instead of the New Customs House in South Mumbai to avoid media who had gathered in strength since morning, the Customs sources said.

The suspect parcel, sent from the Netherlands, allegedly by one Avineshwar and marked to the actress, arrived at the Foreign Post Office here towards September end. Besides the currency, it also contained a top-brand shirt, a pair of binoculars, a DVD player and other electronic items.

Aishwarya's father Krishnaraj Rai had met Custom officials in their office here on November 15 to clarify her position on the issue. But the officials insisted to know firsthand from her and hence she came to the city to clarify her position on the parcel, containing the currency. 

Mr Prasad said Aishwarya came to the airport at 1200 hrs and was showed the parcel and its contents. He said the actress told Customs officials she did not know anything about it. He said when photograph of sender Avineshwar was showed to her she denied having ever seen or known him. Mr Prasad, while declining to divulge the last name of the consignee, said he is a person of Indian origin but not an Indian national.

Replying to a question, the Customs Commissioner , however, agreed that Aishwarya Rai was felicitated at IIFA-2005 held at Amsterdam. Super star Amitabh Bachchan, who is the brand ambassador of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Award , was also present on the occasion. The organisers had announced naming of Tulip, a flower, after Aishwarya at the felicitation ceremony held at Amsterdam.

Mr Prasad said though the Customs have given Aishwarya Rai a clean chit for the present, but investigation would continue into the case which was registered under section 111-m of the Customs Act.

The charge if proved can invite jail term of upto three years and fine double the value of goods and currency seized.

The seizure of unclaimed foreign currency in the unclaimed parcel mentioning the Khar address of the actress is also a violation of FEMA, Mr Prasad said.

Aishwarya, who still owns the Khar residence, however, now lives in suburban Bandra.


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